Women's inheritance laws in Islam

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  • Publish date:17/02/2020
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Concerning inheritance, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much -- an obligatory share.} [Quran 4:7]

 
Thus, Allah The Almighty assigned a known share of inheritance to women and men.
 
Commenting on the occasion, in relation to which this verse was revealed, Imaam Al-Qurtubi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said:
 
When Allah The Almighty mentions issues related to orphans, He connected that with talking about inheritance. This verse was revealed in relation to Aws ibn Thaabit Al-Ansaari, may Allah be pleased with him, who died and left a woman called Umm Kujjah, may Allah be pleased with her, and three daughters. Two men, Suwayd and ‘Arfajah, who were cousins of the deceased and his trustees, seized his estate and did not give any money to either his wife or daughters. In the pre-Islamic era, women and little children were not given any share of the inheritance under the pretext that only those who fought on horseback with spears and swords and gained booty were exclusively entitled to inheritance. Umm Kujjah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported her case to the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) who consequently summoned these two men.
 
They said, “O Messenger of Allah, her children cannot ride a horse (to fight), nor can they help the poor and destitute, nor can they ward off the enemies.” Therefore, the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Go until I see what Allah will ordain regarding them.” Then, Allah The Almighty revealed this verse answering these two men and refuting their saying and ignorant attitude, since young heirs were more entitled to the money than the older ones, because they are incapable of managing their own affairs and considering their own benefits. Those two men, however, reversed the case and revoked the rationale behind inheritance, and thus, they strayed by following their own desires, adopted mistaken opinions and misbehaved.
 
Have you seen the like of this defense in favor of women’s rights? This woman did not find support except in the Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation) of Allah The Almighty.
 
Also, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them -- perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.} [Quran 4:19]
 
Furthermore, Allah The Almighty specified the shares of men and women of inheritance, Saying (what means): {Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing. These are the limits [set by] Allah , and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits - He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein, and he will have a humiliating punishment.} [Quran 4:11-14]
 
Thus, Allah The Almighty allocates women a known and specific share of inheritance. Anyone who deprives them of their share is a wrongdoer who will be punished eternally in Hell suffering a humiliating torment.
 
Along with this allocated share of inheritance to women, Allah did not make it obligatory for them to provide for the family; rather, He made it the men’s responsibility to provide for the women under their care.
 
Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth.} [Quran 4:34]
 
Also, the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said: “The woman’s right over her husband is to provide her with food when he eats and with clothes when he gets clothed, and not to hit her face, nor insult her, nor forsake her except at home.”
Regarding the parents’ gifts to their children, the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said: “Be fair to your children when it comes to giving gifts, for if I were to favor anyone, I would favor women.”
Islam granted women complete financial liberty and made them financially independent of their husbands; if they wish, they may give them or not.
 
Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.} [Quran 4:4]
 
Following is a situation that confirms the woman’s complete independent financial liability in Islam. It was narrated on the authority of ‘Ataa’  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him that he said, “I testify that Ibn ‘Abbaas testifies that the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) went to the prayer site on the day of ‘Eed Al-Fitr, prayed and then delivered a Khutbah. Accompanied by Bilaal, he went to the women and commanded them to give charity, so they started to throw their charity towards them.”
 
Islam considers women to be in full possession of their mental faculties and mature, thus, they do not need financial guardianship on their property. Rather, they are competent to dispose of their money in their own way and they are totally free in this regard.
 
This is the stance of Islam on women’s inheritance as outlined in the Quran and the Sunnah (tradition). 

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Women's inheritance laws in Islam

Concerning inheritance, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave,...More